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FACT CHECK: Claim that inhaling intestinal gas can cure disease misrepresents 2014 study

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FACT CHECK: Claim that inhaling intestinal gas can cure disease misrepresents 2014 study
A 2014 study said that in small doses, hydrogen sulfide, found in farts, can regulate vascular function. It did not say inhaling farts can prevent or cure diseases.

Claim: Inhaling intestinal gas or farts can help prevent and treat diseases. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-check this: The Facebook reel containing the claim has 9,400 reactions, 537 comments, and 5,8500 shares as of writing. It was uploaded by the page “Kaalamang Herbal,” which posts about herbal medicine and supplements. 

The video implies that inhaling intestinal gas can help prevent and cure diseases. The caption of the video says, “Kaya mo bang lumanghap ng utot para panggamot? (Can you inhale intestinal gas as a treatment?)” accompanied by the hashtag #alternativemedicine.

The video, citing unnamed experts, said intestinal gas contains hydrogen sulfide that protects the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells. The gas also helps prevent hypertension, heart disease, kidney failure, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the video. 

The facts: Scientists have debunked the claim that inhaling intestinal gas can prevent or cure diseases. According to a 2014 NBC News article, misinformation on the supposed health benefits of inhaling intestinal gas stemmed from some news websites’ overgeneralization of a press release by the University of Exeter on its 2014 study that highlighted the potential health benefits of hydrogen sulfide.

According to the study, mitochondria use small quantities of hydrogen sulfide when stressed by disease, allowing them to keep working. Scientists then developed a compound called AP39, which helps deliver hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria. 

“Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive,” Professor Matt Whiteman, one of the researchers, said.

The study added that “preventing or reversing mitochondrial damage is a key strategy” in treating diseases such as stroke, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and aging.


No mention: Contrary to the Facebook reel and news headlines that said smelling intestinal gas could prevent disease, neither the researchers nor the study made the claim. 

The University of Exeter press release merely noted that hydrogen sulfide is “well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence.”

The NBC story also featured Dr. Csaba Szabo of the University of Texas, who collaborated with the University of Exeter researchers. Szabo was quoted in the article as saying that “none of this research says you should go and inhale farts.” – Ailla Dela Cruz/

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